Review by Elin Dahlgren
After six long years of no new material, German symphonic metal band Xandria is back with a new lineup and has just released their eighth studio album, an album which has been long awaited by fans all across the globe. In 2017, when Xandria only consisted of founding guitarist Marco Heubaum after all of the other members left, fans were worried that Xandria was done for but here they are, back with a new lineup and album and ready to hit the road again.
The first track, “Two Worlds”, starts with a sort of outlandish and mysterious arrangement that could almost be compared to Tuomas Holopainen’s work on Nightwish’s “Imaginaerum” (2012). It’s a good album opener with a catchy chorus and a lovely mix of operatic and clean vocals. I personally really enjoy it when the song slows down about halfway through and picks up that spooky dramatic feeling again, it then kicks back into a heavy riff that can really get the listener going. The growls that come in after that just lift the song to a new level. The only criticism I could give this song is that it’s maybe a bit too long for an album opener.
Track two, “Reborn”, is definitely my personal favorite. The start of the song with the powerful operatics brings me back to an older Xandria that I really enjoy. The chorus build-up is incredibly strong and sends the listener head first into a chorus that mixes everything from operatics to growls vocal-wise. The song is very catchy and I think it’s the kind that easily gets stuck in your head. This song also slows down a little around halfway through and then breaks into one of my all-time favorite guitar solos. Overall I think this is one of the better songs Xandria has released through the years.
The third track, “You Will Never Be Our God”, features Primal Scream singer Ralf Scheepers and starts with a line of growls before pulling the listener in with an enchanting guitar melody. This one is definitely a real powerhouse of a song, the mix of Scheeper’s grittiness with the new vocalist, Ambre Vourvahis, soft and melodic voice really captures the listener and keeps you on your toes. Once again they rule with solo after solo, one more amazing than the other. The guitar playing is out of this world!
When the fourth track, which is also the title track kicks off I sadly feel like the album goes a bit downhill. This one didn’t strike me as anything out of the ordinary and I was actually disappointed. The same goes for track number five, “Ghosts”, it feels like the album gets repetitive here and while I don’t like saying it, they’ve definitely done better in the past.
The first ballad on the album is the sixth track, called “Your Stories I’ll Remember”. It’s a beautiful song and a nice break when the album was getting repetitive. It feels like a very powerful song with a heart-shattering beautiful chorus. The fact that there is violin mixed into the guitar solo makes my little ex-violinist heart so happy. This is an overall great song with lovely beautiful lyrics. Once again the only criticism I could give is that the song could be a bit shorter but otherwise, it’s amazing.
My other favorite track on the album is the seventh, “My Curse Is My Redemption”. It starts off so beautifully and softly and then instantly turns very dramatic before it slows again as the vocals come in. The bridge holds such power and keeps the listener on their toes and the chorus really embraces it. This song is a power anthem and will be great live. The mix of Vourvahis’ soft voice and the gritty distorted riffs make for a great song.
Jumping to another soft start with track number nine, “Paradise”, which begins so softly with just piano and vocals but then kicks into a beautiful heavy melody before it slows back down and the vocals come back in. These lyrics are beautiful heartbreak, they are genuinely moving and I personally feel like I can feel them in my bones, this is definitely another favorite.
The last and thirteenth track starts with some beautiful orchestral arrangements. It then speeds up with a beastly kick drum beat and those beautiful operatic vocals I think should’ve been used more on the album. The song then finds a steady groove and keeps a sort of mystic vibe over it. I’m thoroughly enjoying how they are using the growls more in this song than a lot of the others, it’s a resource they have and just like with the operatics I think they have an opportunity to do something greater than they already have. This song is lovely and has that mysterious fantasy feel over it but I do think that it’s a bit too long, it’s a reoccurring pattern on this album that songs have mostly pretty great parts but parts that are not as great get to stay making some songs too long.
My conclusion is that I think all of these songs are great to listen to on their own but when you listen to the album from start to end it gets repetitive. I definitely had higher hopes for this album and I’m sad to say that there was some disappointment when I first listened through the whole thing. However like I said all of the songs stand very strong on their own and I think if the order of the songs was different it wouldn’t feel like it was so repetitive. With that said I still think this was a strong release and I am happy to see that Xandria is back up and running.
- Ambre Vourvahis – Vocals
- Marco Heubaum – Guitar
- Robert Klawonn – Guitar
- Tim Schwarz – Bass
- Dimitrios Gatsios – Drums
- Two Worlds
- You Will Never Be Our God ft. Ralf Scheepers
- The Wonders Still Awaiting
- Your Stories I’ll Remember
- My Curse Is My Redemption
- Illusion Is Their Name
- Mirror of Time
- The Maiden And The Child
- XANDRIA – “The Wonders Still Awaiting” (2023) - April 24, 2023
- REXORIA – “Imperial Dawn” (2023) - February 14, 2023
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